Walter just turned the corner of 183rd into Admiral’s Port when he saw her waiting for him at the entrance of her apartment complex. At least that’s what would happen when she got back. Walter had already gotten so accustomed to practicing her arrival in his head that he practically knew what she would be wearing; stained blue Levi’s, her canary yellow cardigan, and a striped ebony tank top. Her hair would be untamed and kinky; loosened to freely fall as it may. The only thing kempt would be the tips on the left side, meeting in a neat, little auburn spiral. Her perfume of choice would be Hello Darling by Victoria’s Secret. No matter the day, or circumstance of Walter’s imagination, it was what she’d put on. She would open her arms, swiftly whip out the bottle, and cover herself in a mist of berries and lilac. He closed his eyes and took in a strong whiff, hoping to catch her distant scent. This was just the version of Janine he settled on this week. She would usually change by the end of Thursday. Walter chuckled at himself and looked at his watch. It read: 3:32pm. How crazy. I wonder if she’s wondering what I’ll be wearing when she gets back. He gave a pale smile and swallowed hard. He knew she wasn’t.
The room was dark, except for the flashing strobe lights, and the occasional array of green and blue that would thump along the walls to the baseline of the song. Janine prodded the tips of her spiraled locks with her fingers, adjusting them so that they didn’t unravel or frizz. She pulled down on the frills at the bottom of her dress, failing to keep it from riding up above her knees. Having not prepared an outfit beforehand, Janine was stuck with purchasing a dress from a seamstress she found in a market outside of Tel-Aviv. She continued to struggle with it, but to her chagrin, was utterly defeated by its tight threading. She looked down at her now revealed thighs and sharply sucked her teeth. Damn it. Don’t they know how to make dresses in this country? Worth 50 shekels, my ass. Despite the obvious discrepancy in length, the dress still suited her beautifully. Its salmon colored laces gently hugged her body, bringing attention to her supple waistline and honey-dipped skin. In this orchard of women, she was a peach; sweet, tantalizing, and ripened to be picked by crooked hands.
The music echoed throughout the room, sending vibrations from her seat to her body. Janine hazily eyed the unopened bottle of Bud Light Lime in the center of the table. Under the impression that she could get a handsome, young local to buy her a drink, this Bud-Light stood as a testament of her failure in doing exactly that. In a second attempt at this, Janine flipped her hair to her right side, revealing a soft nape and dimpled back. Her response soon came in the form of a muscular silhouette. She narrowed her gaze as he slithered across the dance floor to reach her, but she still couldn’t make out his appearance in the night club’s dimness. He extended his hand towards her, flashed a radiant smile, and mouthed something. She couldn’t understand him, but she grasped his hand anyway, allowing him to lead her to the dance floor.
The silhouette man grabbed her hips, and they swayed to the beat of the song. He tightened his grip and brought her closer. Janine winced as his gnarled fingers pinched her. They continued for a few minutes, and then suddenly his lips met hers. He barreled his tongue into her mouth and pressed the lower half of his body against hers. They kissed sloppily, sometimes coming up for air. The took turns initiating. She didn’t understand what was happening, but she couldn’t stop now. Not after all the work she put in. She tightened her grip on the stranger, letting him taste every inch of her.
Suddenly, she became cold; as though her body was being hollowed out. His mouth tasted like Black and Mild, and she really began to taste that Bud Lite now. Her stomach turned over and she became queasy. When the song finished and they finally pulled apart, he smirked at her, and nodded towards the exit. Janine responded with a weak smile and shook her head. The handsome stranger shrugged off her refusal and made his way to another girl. She stood there for a few moments before realizing something. I don’t even know his name. She trudged back to her table and sat down in her seat. She picked up her still unopened drink and stared at it with a grimace. It lost its appeal. She looked over at the digital clock flashing on the wall behind the DJ booth. It read: 12:32am. She sighed.
I’m sorry, Walt.
But Before You Go
Walter narrowed his focus and stared at Janine, his mouth slightly agape. He shifted his gaze side to side; first to a nearby door in the hallway, then onto the carpet. He studied its stitching and silently dragged his finger on its rough fabric. It was complicated enough to buy him some more time, so he kept his eyes on each loomed piece before choosing to stare at the walls. There were small cracks and chips on the alabaster paint. He noticed how the dim yellow glow of the hallway light slightly spilled from the cracks, like an egg being separated of its yolk. But Walter was just being meticulous again. He would usually do this when she upset him in hopes that the silent treatment would give her some time to rethink her words. It was definitely a swing-and-a-miss type of method, so he was hoping that she would at least hit what he was pitching this time. Janine, her first time at bat that day, readied herself at the plate. Walter brought his attention from the wall back onto her.
“What the hell, Walt? You know I hate it when you do that,” she snapped.
Walter pursed his lips together.
Aaaaaaand a miss!
“Do what?” he countered coolly.
“Jesus! Quit being so annoying. You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
“Ohhh that,” he said with a lighter tone. “I figured since you were playing dumb, I should do the same.”
She made no reply. A sudden loll wedged itself between them. Walter’s ears began to furiously blush as the silence continued. He didn’t want to argue with her. Arguments were such a triviality to him. He just wanted to spend the day with her. But she was so persistent; he had to say something. C’mon, Jan. You know that what you’re saying doesn’t make any sense. You know it’s stupid. Don’t argue back, please. Just see. You know I have every reason to be upset…I do, right?
“I don’t see what the big deal is,” she began, “I’m just taking a trip to Tel-Aviv with Lindsey. It’s obviously easier if I stay with her and her friends.”
Walter widened his eyes.
“Friends?” he scoffed. “You mean those guys that she doesn’t know? You’re joking, right?”
“Watch it, Walter,” she warned, “you may not like her, but she’s still a great friend to me. It’s not like it’s in my itinerary to sleep with one of those guys. Besides, you trust me, right?”
“You know that’s not the case, Jan.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“That’s a bit of a loaded question, hon,” Walter replied hesitantly. Janine let out a short groan and plopped her head on his shoulder.
“Babe, can we not do this, please? I leave in a few days and this is not how I want to spend our remaining time together.”
“Don’t do that, Jan. Don’t try to suddenly make this our time. That’s total bullsh-”
Walter shivered as Janine gently kissed his ear, caressing his inner thigh with her hand as she did so. He struggled to get his thoughts in order. She would always do this when she wanted to change the subject.
“J-just promise me that you’ll stay at your grandparents.”
“Please, Janine,” he pleaded. “I’m not asking for anything crazy.”
Janine released her grip on him. She sighed knowingly and rolled her eyes.
“Fine, Walt. I’ll stay at my grandparents.”
Walter gave a small smile and silently turned his face away from Janine. He began to study the fabric again.
Janine suddenly straddled him and began to slowly rock her hips. She lifted his face up to hers with her hands, showing him a playful smile. He grabbed her by the waist, brought her closer to him, and deeply kissed her; taking his time with every motion. He bit her lower lip the way that she liked; gently tugged and pulled at her hair between kisses. She let out soft breaths and whimpers when they pulled apart or continued. He made sure to imprint himself on her body. Two minutes passed; then she pulled away to catch her breath.
“I love you, okay?” she weakly assured, flushed.
“Yeah, I know, hon,” he said, unbuttoning her blouse.
Walter hesitated again.
“I love you too.”
And a miss!
Edited by Ben Marcher